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NOAA researcher finds 21-year-old message in a bottle in Hawaii

By
Ben Hooper
A researcher out looking for monk seals on a remote Hawaiian island found a message in a bottle from a Washington state kindergarten class dated from 1998. Photo courtesy of Paige Mino/NOAA
A researcher out looking for monk seals on a remote Hawaiian island found a message in a bottle from a Washington state kindergarten class dated from 1998. Photo courtesy of Paige Mino/NOAA

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- A team of researchers searching for monk seals on a remote Hawaiian island instead found a message in a bottle from a 1998 Washington state kindergarten class.

Paige Mino, a seasonal research assistant for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a post on NOAA's website that she and other researchers were on the remote Bird Island when she spotted the bottle at the high tide line on the beach.

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"Nothing is special about that, the atoll is littered with plastics and glass bottles. But this one is different, I can see that there's something inside," Mino wrote.

The bottle turned out to contain drawings, messages and a photo from Mrs. Mary-Lee Johnson's kindergarten class in North Bend, Wash. A typed message in the bottle was dated June 15, 1998.

"It goes on to include a question from each student in the class: Nick wants to know if we have any gold, Erinn wonders if we like cats, and Tyson asks if there's a volcano near us," Mino said.

Mino said she was able to contact Johnson, who explained her husband had dropped the bottle into the ocean while sailing in the 1998 Pacific Cup race from San Francisco to Hawaii.

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The researcher said the bottle was likely carried to Bird Island by the North Pacific Gyre.

"Created by trade winds and the Earth's rotation, the gyre consists of multiple currents," Mino wrote. "The bottle must have been picked up by the California Current and eventually converged with other currents to ultimately end up at Pearl and Hermes."

Mino said she has been corresponding with Johnson and the pair might be meeting in person soon in Hawaii.

"Through our emails I've learned so much about her and her students, who are now 26 years old," Mino wrote. "Her stories of kindergarten shenanigans always make me laugh, and I hope to hear more from her. Through currents and winds, who knew I'd make a new friend in the middle of the ocean?"

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